less than glorious

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Having grown up around church and ministry, I’ve heard a LOT about the glory of God.

It’s the “chief end of man”, some say: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
The “heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1), you know, the firmament declareth and such.
We were created FOR His glory (Isaiah 43:7), we can image His glory (Matthew 5:16), the whole earth is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3).

It’s difficult to define, contain, detail. It’s His matchless beauty, intrinsic holiness, His infinite love. But human language is finite and He is not, so we are in a tricky position when we begin drawing linguistic boundaries around the glory of Almighty God.

soli Deo gloria
God’s glory alone…

When I was in seasons of grief and longing, God’s glory seemed to be an affliction. ‘Oh yes, He’ll get His glory alright. He’ll crush me and withhold from me and I’m supposed to cheerily prostrate myself as if this pain means nothing because, you know… GLORY TO GOD.’ The “eternal weight of glory” was an anvil, purposed to flatten me.

When I was hurting, I imagined a cosmic fame-hungry god, clawing for his own attention and praise, whatever the cost to his subjects. The clouds in my eyes and over my heart crafted a clever deception and I ranted at a figure that didn’t vaguely resemble the real and true God of the Bible.

The problem this created was that when my anger had eased and my hurts began to heal, I did not know how to trust God at all.
And if I couldn’t trust Him, how on earth could I ever glorify Him?

I tentatively took small steps of obedience, only to be consumed by bouts of anxiety and fear.
I quietly responded to invitations from the Lord, to discover a surge of inexplicable rage when slight opposition arose.
I began to see every perceived failure to act faithfully or speak true things as a statement on my ability to bring glory to God in the midst of trials.

This is what I hoped for during our son’s adoption process: I was going to be the ever-faithful adoption blogger who writes triumphantly and hopefully during every setback of how God is justsofaithfulyouguys. And when we encountered setback after setback, instead I found myself screaming bad words in the closet or panicking in the middle of the night. God didn’t seem faithful. He didn’t seem to even be listening to me, whether I prayed nicely or shouted angrily.

I was ruining God’s glory.

I spent well over a year, laboring under shame and condemnation. Difficult circumstances, painful waiting, deferred hope that led to heartsickness…all of those things had piled up and I was a reflection of something (Someone?) less than glorious.

but soli Deo gloria
God’s glory alone…

In the past six months, I have begun to see a change in my perspective —a holy shift in how I view my circumstances and how I reflect on my experiences. God doesn’t change and as such, His glory is unchanging (James 1:17). He is wholly other, perfect in all of His ways, undiminished in any capacity by any outside force, always existent and perpetually present. All things were created by Him and for Him and through Him, for His glory and nothing about me can un-glorify God.

Sure, I could miss the mark - my choices could mask my perception of His glory; my choices could sway someone’s opinion of God’s glory. In either case, however, I am looking at merely a human impression of the presence of God’s glory. What a relief to recall that the permanent presence and glory of God are not changed or diminished in any way by little ol’ me!

It’s been a slow and glorious un-burdening, as I have come to see that EVEN WHEN I FAIL, God’s glory is not at stake. He will use my obedience and my disobedience. He will use every failure and every broken attempt to walk this road with Him for my good and, what a relief, for HIS GLORY.

So now, I can say it without withholding: soli Deo gloria…
God’s glory alone…


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sarah sandel3 Comments